Thetford’s Derrick gave up army career for love of his life

PUBLISHED: 15:47 29 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:47 29 August 2014

Derrick and Sheila Mondon celebrate their diamond wedding in Thetford.
Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Derrick and Sheila Mondon celebrate their diamond wedding in Thetford. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Archant norfolk

He had a high-flying career in one of the country’s top army regiments with a ringside seat to the country’s most historic events.

However, Derrick Mondon gave it all up so he could marry his childhood sweetheart – and this week the pair, of The Glade, Thetford, celebrate their 60th anniversary.

Mr Mondon, 81, first met Sheila Bowen, 79, when they lived in Brixton, London, as children.

It was not until Mr Mondon left school between the ages of 14 and 15 that they started dating – but Mr Mondon was called up for national service a few years later.

He joined the Scots Guards and was soon on Royal duties as a guard at Clarence House, the Tower of London and major national events like Trooping the Colour and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.

For Mr Mondon, it was a dream job which gave him a sense he was watching history in the making.

“I would have made a career out of it – but I was in love,” he said.

“When I wasn’t on guard, I couldn’t get home quick enough to see her.” Mr Mondon left his army career and married Mrs Mondon in 1954, starting a career as a driver.

Today, the pair have three grown-up daughters – Diane, 53, Michelle, 51, and Corinne, 49 – but tragically lost their son Kevin, 12, due to a brain tumour. To make a fresh start after Kevin’s death, the family looked to move somewhere new.

“A friend of mine said: ‘Why don’t you come to Thetford?’ We got a council place, and we have been happy ever since.”

The couple have seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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